Album: Kate Bush

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The Independent Culture

It's there too in the childhood reminiscence of "A Coral Room", the almost autistic satisfaction of the obsessive-compulsive mathematician fascinated by "Pi" (which affords the opportunity to hear Bush slowly sing vast chunks of the number in question, several dozen digits long - which rather puts singing the telephone directory into the shade), and particularly "Mrs Bartolozzi", a wife, or maybe widow, seeking solace for her absent mate in the dance of their clothes in the washing machine. "I watched them going round and round/ My blouse wrapping itself round your trousers," she observes, slipping into the infantile - "Slooshy sloshy, slooshy sloshy, get that dirty shirty clean" - and alighting periodically upon the zen stillness of the murmured chorus, "washing machine".

The second disc takes us through a relaxing day's stroll in the sunshine, from the sequenced birdsong of the "Prelude", through a pavement artist's attempt to "find the song of the oil and the brush" through serendipity and skill ("That bit there, it was an accident/ But he's so pleased/ It's the best mistake he could make/ And it's my favourite piece"), through the gentle flamenco chamber-jazz "Sunset" and the Laura Veirs-style epiphanic night-time swim in "Nocturn", to her dawn duet with the waking birds that concludes the album with mesmeric waves of synthesiser perked up by brisk banjo runs.

There's a hypnotic undertow running throughout the album, from the gentle reggae lilt of the single "King of the Mountain" and the organ pulses of "Pi" to the minimalist waves of piano and synth in "Prologue". Though oddly, for all its consistency of mood and tone, Aerial is possibly Bush's most musically diverse album, with individual tracks involving, alongside the usual rock-band line-up, such curiosities as bowed viol and spinet, jazz bass, castanets, rhythmic cooing pigeons, and her bizarre attempt to achieve communion with the natural world by aping the dawn chorus. Despite the muttered commentary of Rolf Harris as The Painter, it's a marvellous, complex work which restores Kate Bush to the artistic stature she last possessed around the time of Hounds of Love.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'King of the Mountain', 'Pi', 'Mrs Bartolozzi', 'Prologue', 'Aerial'